Maywood buried its first slain police officer June 4, 1992, in an intensely personal ceremony befitting its 34-member police force and the affable, small-town ways of Officer John A. Hoglund.
The funeral – attended by hundreds of friends, relatives, and uniformed officers – also became a statement of police solidarity as the mourners in Downey’s Calvary Chapel were reminded of the politically tense and often hostile times in which Hoglund was killed.
“This year has not been unmarked by tragedy and today, we in law enforcement bond together as one large family,” said former Maywood officer Steve Nagy, one of two friends who eulogized Hoglund as a devoted patrolman and practical joker with a dry sense of humor.
“Don’t allow society to divide us,” Nagy pleaded in his eulogy, as dignitaries such as Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, Sheriff Sherman Block and District Attorney Ira Reiner looked on.
Hoglund, 47, was fatally shot May 29, 1992 when he responded to a silent alarm and encountered five armed robbers fleeing a neighborhood market. He had been riding alone – as patrol officers typically do in the small city seven miles south of downtown Los Angeles – and had no chance to draw his gun.
A 16-year police veteran who left accounting because he loved the streets more than numbers, Hoglund is the first officer shot to death in the line-of-duty in the Maywood Police Department’s 68-year history.
Three men have been charged with murder and robbery in Hoglund’s death and were being held without bail while sheriff’s deputies hunt for two more suspects.
Even in deceptively safe Maywood, Hoglund was aware of his job’s risks but still found the work irresistible, a friend and co-worker told mourners.
“There’s a love only a police officer can experience and savor – the love he has for the streets,” said Sgt. Ed Robison, his voice breaking. “This lover can be cruel and harsh. She will knock you down, beat you up, and make you come back to it day-after-day.”
“Last Friday, John Hoglund put on his badge and his gun and went out to meet his lover for the last time.”
But Robison and Nagy drew laughter as well as tears as they recalled the antics of the officer nicknamed Hogie. At times, Hoglund’s mother, three daughters and fiancee smiled and nodded as they sat together, holding hands.
A tireless worker who wrote so many traffic tickets that he was called Maywood’s secret weapon, Hoglund once chased three armed bandits down the Long Beach Freeway at such a rapid speed that he left Robison and other officers far behind. Then he got on his car radio and quipped, “It sure is getting lonely out here.”
“That was Hogie – cool and calm in the face of crisis,” Robison said. “If there’s any consolation to this tragedy it is knowing that Hogie died doing what he loved to do… He was a good cop.”
Nagy recalled a time when Hoglund’s co-workers paid him back for a practical joke by sewing shut his uniform’s pant legs and sleeves and then watching as he struggled to get dressed to rush off to a prearranged “emergency call.”
Though Hoglund’s funeral drew 2,500 mourners and bore the trappings of a formal police burial – solemn officers from around the state, police badges covered by black bands, a 500-vehicle procession – it was also marked by home-spun simplicity.
“I didn’t want to make this speech and still don’t,” said Ted Heidke, Maywood’s police chief. “This has been a very difficult time at Maywood,” he said. “We’re a very small department. We’re all really, truly a family.”
When Heidke presented Hoglund’s mother, Dorothy, with the flag that draped his coffin, she touched the chief’s cheek. Hoglund is also survived by his three daughters, Jeanette, 27; Deana, 22; and Laura, 19; and his fiancee, Theresa French, of Azusa.